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Book Review: Red Glove by Holly Black

As I mentioned in my Follow Friday post, Holly Black has been a popular author on my blog lately! Between Tithe and her Curse Workers series, I’ve enjoyed every book I’ve ever read by Black.

She has a true way with words and Red Glove was no exception!

red glove holly black book review

Title & Author: Red Glove by Holly Black

Genre: YA- Fantasy

Release Date: April 5, 2011

Series: Book 2 in a series (next up: Black Heart)

Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry

How I Got the Book: Bought

Description: “Curses and cons. Magic and the mob. In Cassel Sharpe’s world, they go together. Cassel always thought he was an ordinary guy, until he realized his memories were being manipulated by his brothers. Now he knows the truth—he’s the most powerful curse worker around. A touch of his hand can transform anything—or anyone—into something else.

That was how Lila, the girl he loved, became a white cat. Cassel was tricked into thinking he killed her, when actually he tried to save her. Now that she’s human again, he should be overjoyed. Trouble is, Lila’s been cursed to love him, a little gift from his emotion worker mom. And if Lila’s love is as phony as Cassel’s made-up memories, then he can’t believe anything she says or does.

When Cassel’s oldest brother is murdered, the Feds recruit Cassel to help make sense of the only clue—crime-scene images of a woman in red gloves. But the mob is after Cassel too—they know how valuable he could be to them. Cassel is going to have to stay one step ahead of both sides just to survive. But where can he turn when he can’t trust anyone—least of all, himself?

Love is a curse and the con is the only answer in a game too dangerous to lose.”


Red Glove chronicles the second installment of Cassel’s life as a senior in high school, a secret transformation worker and an all-around con man. Only this time the feds have caught up with him….Along for the ride are this best friends Sam and Daneca- plus the girl he’s loved his whole life, Lila.

Crime and Punishment

I think Red Glove does a great job of combining things that don’t seem like they go together. Like youth and wisdom, crime and innocence and betrayal and trust. Black does a great job of pairing these ideas to create a truly engaging story. All these different pieces are scattered at the beginning of the novel, and by the end they fit a bit better- but a few pieces are still missing.

That’s the genius of this series- I often felt out of the loop of what was going on, but I loved every minute of it because of the deft writing and strong characters. Black leaves little gems like this in her stories:

Life’s full of opportunities to make crappy decisions that feel good. And after the first one, the rest get a whole lot easier.

What makes Cassel great is that he is the one good streak in his family of mobsters. Yet, he’s not without his flaws- like conning his classmates and lying to hide his working ability. I think the key is that Cassel’s not a “fake” kind of hero. He tricks people, even his friends, but he protects them too. He betrays his family, but it’s to prevent them from causing worse damage to themselves.

He struggles just like everyone else to do the “right” thing even though he’s unsure of what that is. The lines between good and bad are so blurred for curse workers (and everyone else too, for that matter).

Aside from Cassel, the other characters in this book are also very strong. Especially Lila- that girl doesn’t need a protector. She is cutting and brutal and wonderfully vulnerable.

I’m dying to find out what happens between Cassel and Lila. Unfortunately, Red Glove doesn’t tie up any loose ends in this department- it just adds more to the mix. But, honestly, stuff like that is what often compels me to race through novels. Sad but true.

Adult Content in YA

Although I thoroughly and completely enjoyed this book, I mentally paused at one scene. A character sleeps with another character as an act of revenge. This aspect of the novel is sort of brushed aside. The person who was supposed to be made jealous sort of accepts what happens and moves on.

This isn’t a huge part of the book and is not described in detail, but I couldn’t help feeling like it wasn’t needed to get the point across. Plus, I also wonder what teens think of reading things like that. When I came across more adult themes in YA books as an actual young adult, I usually didn’t think too much about it.

This was mainly because I already decided what my personal stance was about topics like sex, drugs and alcohol. So, reading about them wasn’t something that would have swayed me either way.

Are kids like that now? Would reading about sex as revenge be a topic that upset them or confused them? Or would they skip by it like it wasn’t a big deal?

I definitely don’t have any answers, and I’d love to hear any insights that you may have!


Red Glove is another stunning book in the Curse Workers series. It’s a must-read!! If you have an interest in reading about secret criminal dealings, unsolved murders and bitter unrequited love, then this is the book for you!

About Lisa Parkin

I'm a hardcore lover of young adult fiction and have been reviewing books since 2011. Other interests include Downton Abbey, heat lightning storms, Harry Potter land and (begrudingly) one orange tabby.